Thursday, January 29, 2009

I went to high school with Dwight Schrute?!

Like I said, I've been digging up old photos and reading lists of names from the past. I went to a gargantuan high school in north suburban Chicago. We had upwards of 5000 students in attendance at the time I attended in 1981-1985. Hallways between classes were a crush of students. I always knew that we have quite a few notable alumni. I knew about Donald Rumsfeld, but not Rahm Emmanuel for example.

It's funny how you hear names in one context and they mean nothing, but then later when you read a gazillion names from your childhood, suddenly it comes back... Hilarious, talented actor from "The Office", Rainn Wilson went to my high school. Here is proof:
Rainn Wilson went to my high school

I promise you that is him. Unfortunately all my yearbooks have water damage so I can't really browse through their stuck pages.

He was a year ahead of me and he did many of the plays and musicals. I was backstage on stage crew. Here is Rainn Wilson in the show Pygmalion. Seated is actor Jim True-Frost (The Wire). I painted the language chart in the background and was very proud of it. I recall this was a good show but I was mostly focused on the set changes and the lighting cues.
Rainn Wilson

The yearbook notes about the Pygmalion production: "Each role demanded tremendous individual effort by the actor to master the British accent of his character." I think in that photo you can easily see the actual effort expended by Rainn Wilson to affect the cockney vocalizations and body language of his character.

If the pages weren't all stuck, I could tell you what other parts he played in our shows, but I do have him listed as Jud in Oklahoma, so I he must have had a solo singing part at some point. He also played Wint in "Ah, Wilderness" which had the memorable line, "Life is a joke and everything always turns out all wrong in the end."

These classroom photos are so amusing. Here is Rainn Wilson with his advisory (homeroom) in his junior year. Teenage boys have a hard time summoning up the will to smile for pictures. Rainn Wilson is in the center back row.
Dwight Schrute

And just because I know he is reading this and because he and his wife are still good friends of mine, here is a signature from Rob who was 2 years ahead of me in high school:
Yearbook Signature

He calls me a "good little girl"! and well.. it was true.. I was.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This is my dumb stupid brother

Yesterday I fiddled all day doing this and that on the computer and I felt guilty. Today I embraced it and got totally nostalgic. I have very few photos of my childhood. Mom insists that they exist, but she's hidden them away from the light for closing in on 25 years.

I do have some old scrapbooks and this is the page with the school photos of my brother and me. I was only kidding about him being dumb and stupid. Really we were great friends and he was a bright, fun student. Here he is in first grade and I am in second. It is probably 1974.

Me and my Dumb Stupid Brother

You know folks, it is Girl Scout Cookie time! Be sure to support your local troop and stock up! This is a photo of my Girl Scout troop circa 1977. We served homemade cookies at the Winnetka Bank on Saturday mornings. This was back when you actually had to enter a bank to do business. I am the brown haired girl on the far right.
Cookies Anyone?

During my nostalgia day today I was reminded that one of these little girls, Susie C, got a GI Joe Man head stuck on her tongue and had to have it surgically removed. I am absolutely serious. Ahh.. the things you remember via Facebook.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hello my friends! Have a good day!

We are well into the winter blahs around here. I love winter and snow, but every year around now until maybe the end of February I get to feeling really lazy and I notice all the unfinished things all around the house and ... well you know... you probably feel it too if you live up here in the north someplace.

Believe me.. I lived in a warm climate for awhile and I would never trade back. I prefer the winter chill over steamy summers any day. Where I lived in south Texas, it was godawful hot from February until November.

Anyway.. I'm looking at some of my supplies and not feeling energized to use them for anything, but I sure do have nice supplies! Isn't this fabric cute? I've been admiring these Japanese prints for years and I finally scored a yard of this at the Winter Renegade Craft Show here in Chicago:
Hello Friends!
I want to be that little bear delivering flowers on my bike...

Mom gave me this yarn she found in her closet. I think she meant to give it to me for Christmas.

Yummy cuddley yarns

Don't you just want to dive in and take a nap in it? This is alpaca and angora fibers and I think she got them at a fiber arts show we have here in Chicago at the Botanic Gardens every year.

I have been accomplishing a few things. We've been eating at home more than usual and that makes me feel like a good mom. I've got a nice chicken to roast for supper and some quinoa and veggies to go with it. I've also scored a lot of snowman furniture for the little house I share with my kids in Animal Crossing. We are playing the DS version and I've been swiping it out of my son's room after he goes to sleep at night... It helps me get to sleep because I get insomnia this time of year. Or maybe it keeps me awake.. whatever.. our snowman house is cute and we get good Happy Room Academy points!

And in current events.. Isn't Gov. Blagojevich a nutcase? Oprah Winfrey as Senator from Illinois? It's very entertaining.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

25 Random Things Meme

Alex tagged me on Facebook with these 25 random things. I love reading these things about people. I'm not going to single anyone out, so consider yourself tagged if you read this and feel like sharing silly disjointed thoughts.

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You must tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

I'm supposed to post these at Facebook, but I'm putting them here instead. These are my 25 things:

I almost minored in Spanish in college until we got to serious grammar and I lost interest. I was all about conversational Spanish.



Lived and taught school in south Texas

Happily moved back to the chilly Midwest

The worst thing about being a stay-at-home parent is the constant, unceasing requirement to provide foods for the family.

The best thing is time!

The other best thing is shopping while all the people with crazy lives are at work.

I wear men’s shoes and men’s socks whenever possible.

I spent two summers as a teenager in rural Latin America building latrines and giving immunizations. I slept several nights in a chicken house. Roosters do not crow in the morning. They crow all night long to each other across the countryside.

I love movies, but I dislike action movies most courtroom scenes. Courtroom scenes are lazy screenwriting. That’s my official position.

I love dipping buttered toast into my hot chocolate.

I love slow cooker meals, but I don’t like to think about cooking supper right after breakfast.

Sometimes tourist traps are really fun. Have you ever been to a Ripley’s Believe it or Not! museum or the Wisconsin Dells?

Golf courses are ugly. (Edited much later: I don't like all the artificial landscaped look. I like things to seen natural and less composed.)

I don’t think I’m ever going to finish that one quilt I stuffed under the bed. Who am I kidding…

I feel spiritually called to be a teacher, but I also feel called to stay home with my kids. When is the right time to go back to my profession? I am not sure.

The secret to delicious Kraft mac ‘n cheese is lots of extra shredded cheddar and always use butter not margarine.

In fact, always use butter except when you should use light cooking oil or olive oil.

I will smile and say something nice about those brownies you made from a boxed mix, but I can tell the difference and I feel just a little bit sad for you. There is nothing easier to bake than homemade brownies.

My car is messy. I pretend to care, but I really don’t care that much or I would clean it out more often. I also don't care that your car is messy. Really.. I mean it. Don't worry about that.

My house is also kind of messy except that one day when the cleaning service comes and I organize everything.

The best way to use free time is to read. I wish I did that more often because a very alluring way to use free time is video games and television.

I must procrastinate to get things finished. I work well under pressure, but I am usually quite relaxed so I have to amp up my stress by putting things off.

I get kind of bored at the beach. I’d rather be at the mountains or in a lovely cool north woods out of the direct sun.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gees Bend Quilt Book

Gee's Bend Book

Do you all know about Gee's Bend and their stunning quiltmaking history? Mom and I went to the first museum exhibition when it came to Milwaukee in 2003. I think it has toured again and there are several art books and even a play (that we also saw) about the story. The play was mostly the civil rights history of the little isolated island visited by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I like civil rights history themes, but I wanted the play to be an examination of the artistic process of quilting and it didn't occur to me that such a theme might not have a broad appeal...

Above is a corduroy quilt by Arcola Pettway, 1934-1994 done in a flag style for the Bicentennial. It seems appropriate to post a flag today since our patriotism was stirred after yesterday's historic events.

I find that as I sit here to share this with you, I don't want to write an essay about the story of Gees Bend since others have already done that. Mom gave me this wonderful book Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt as a Christmas gift and I am only just now diving into it and revisiting the glorious inspiration I got 6 years ago when I saw these quilts the first time.

Gee's Bend Book

These two quilts are by Annie Mae Young (b. 1928)
Gee's Bend Book

I make nice things, but I am a pattern follower. I like the way that patterns make decisions for me and I can predict how things are going to turn out. I don't like to "unsew" seams if I don't like how things look. I often wish I had the freedom of these talented artists to know all the rules about quilt block making and then just toss them aside to create works of such modern originality. Make no mistake. These artists have carefully composed these fabrics into pleasing compositions regardless of wonky lines and uneven edges.

This quilt is by Annie Bendolph (1900-1981) I have a book on this flying geese patch that I simply must use.
Gee's Bend Book

Here's Annie Bendolph's photo taken by Arthur Rothstein in 1937. Image from Wikipedia:

This one is by Mary Lee Bendolph (b.1935). The colors are aqua, black and dark brick red.
Gee's Bend Book

I remember this one by Annie E. Pettway (1904-1971) from the exhibition. I love the way the section of wonky striped triangle dances in the center.
Gee's Bend Book

Lousiana P. Bendolph (b. 1960) does quilts that are variations on the housetop pattern which is concentric squares.
Gee's Bend Book

This one is made of old work clothes by Annie Mae Young (b. 1928)
Gee's Bend Book

This book is full of photos and detailed stories of the quiltmakers and the discovery of these treasures. It's a perfect gift for me! Thanks, Mom!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Inaugural Hooplah

Congress Debates Adding Elaborate Dance To Obama's Inauguration Ceremony

Oh that the inauguration ceremony would be so entertaining! (Note that video is from The Onion and is totally a joke.)

It looks like there is going to be wall-to-wall news coverage of the inauguration. I don't know what exactly they will cover.. a big bunch of parties? Crowds and traffic? Celebrities? If I recall the swearing in ceremony is pretty quick.

My daughter's third grade is taking advantage of the opportunity to study our Presidents. My daughter is excited to get to do a report on one of her top choices. "Mom! I got Grover Cleveland!" (In case you were wondering... nobody gets to do Lincoln and Washington. They are too easy and well known.) Her teacher is a distant relation to Ulysses Grant, and another teacher can claim Lincoln as a distant cousin. I can claim no such interesting connections even though one half of my ancestry came over during the colonial period.

So anyway... Yay America! We love studying the presidents in our house. My husband wants to visit all their homes, museums, and libraries. I've said this before... the Gerald Ford museum is great. The Lyndon Johnson stuff down in Texas is interesting too. The Kennedy Museum is awful. The best we've seen is the Lincoln Museum and Library down in Springfield, IL.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

100 Motif Crochet Book

Here is another crochet book I got at my local Japanese bookseller. This one is ISBN978-4-8347-2650-3 or just 4834726503. I wanted some more patterns that you work in the round. I was keeping my eye out for a different book that has more motifs but this one is pretty good!

100 Motif Crochet Book

I haven't stitched from it yet. I think I invariably am drawn to books with floral patterns. Look at these:
100 Motif Crochet Book

Beyond that, there are a few edge patterns along with round patterns:
100 Motif Crochet Book

Square patterns. I like these using multiple colors, but many patterns are just one color:
100 Motif Crochet Book

Here are triangle motifs:
100 Motif Crochet Book

100 Motif Crochet Book

100 Motif Crochet Book

And something called "knit ring". I think these are done around stitch markers. They show squares and triangle centers as well as the circle I'm familiar with:
100 Motif Crochet Book

So pretty! I'm really feeling crochet right now. It is super cold here, so working with fuzzy yarns seems right somehow. I committed to doing a review/article on embroidery for February, so I'll have to get out that stuff again too! and oh man.. I have 2 baby quilts that need borders and backs and those babies are growing every day!

I made this scarf with some really expensive hand dyed superwash wool. I love these circles! The pattern was in Crochet Today, but I've seen it lots of places:
Scarf Pattern

Monday, January 12, 2009

Magic Scrubber Book 9

This is book 9 of the Magic Scrubber Series. I found it at my local Japanese bookseller. This is ISBN978-4-8247-6460-4. I think that if you do a search for it, you use the numbers 4834764604. Searching by ISBN is tricky. I never seem to get it right, but people always ask for the numbers so there they are!

Magic Scrubber Book 9

I learned recently that these scrubbers are made from acrylic yarn. I found that out by trial and error, but there was an article and a pattern written about these useful little things in the latest issue of Craft magazine. According to the article, (what I remember.. I read it yesterday at the bookstore) these qualify as eco-crafts because they are effective without the use of soaps or cleaning chemicals. Also, they are durable and reuseable.

Here are the ones I've made recently:
Magic Scrubbers

In this book there are about as many knit patterns as crochet:
Magic Scrubber Book 9

The ones on the right below appear to have a soft sponge inside. I've been wanting to learn this kind of knitting:
Magic Scrubber Book 9

Here are knit houses and funny crocheted dusting girls:
Magic Scrubber Book 9

Magic Scrubber Book 9

Here are hears and stars:
Magic Scrubber Book 9

This book also has a bottle scrubber, some cute animal faces, simple fruits, and a colorful crocheted mitten scrubber and a glove scrubber.

Finally... This is the advertisement at the end of the booklet for the yarn they are using. I can't read any of this, but maybe this is useful to someone! This same ad is in all of my magic scrubber pattern books.

Magic Scrubber Book 9

Note: I edited this post from an earlier version where I'd included a photo of one of the patterns. I've since had a crisis of conscience about copyright and have deleted that photo.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Handmade Toy Alliance

Have you heard about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) and how it will affect handmade toy makers and small businesses? Read about it at the Handmade Toy Alliance, or Etsy. I read about it first at the Fantastic Toys Blog.

Mr. Squirrel is quite disgruntled about this and encourages you to sign the petition.
Felt Squirrel

Craftster Linking

The truth is that my little dyed lace project that got a Best of award at Craftster is cute and all, but is kind of lame when you see some of the other winners.

I'm going to do links here because I don't want anyone to get the idea that these are my crafts!

Merwing (Aimee Ray) honored her childhood heroes with charming embroideries.

Look at THIS fantastic crocheted mushroom house.

Mario is beloved by all, HERE in an epic crosstitch and his buddy Yoshi is HERE in glass mosaic.

This treasure map quilt is cute and inspired. This Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt is incredible. This pattern is very difficult and must be stitched entirely by hand.

This dinosaur play mat is ingenious and she even includes a pattern and instructions.

Doesn't she look cute in her Old Timey Bathing Costume?

Seriously, y'all have to dye your own wool with Kool-Aid or try dyeing your own self striping yarn. I also use food coloring droplets in a vinegar solution.

If you are quietly crafty, I encourage you to find a halfway decent camera and a bright area of your living space and start taking pictures and posting your creations on forums like Craftster. Craftster is my favorite because people are nice, not snarky, and the discussions stick to crafting. It really is inspiring to see all the things people make!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Craftster Best of 2008

WooHoo! Craftster put up their Best of 2008 list and my colorful dyed lace made the best of list for Fiber Arts: Dyeing. I blogged the lace project HERE and shared it on Craftster HERE. I used this lace in a bunting for my daughter's birthday.

Dyed Lace

The Craftster list is a combination of most views and judgment of awesomeness by the moderators so I feel quite honored.

I'm on the list twice! Our Tea Towel Tour Round 3 was the most popular swap of 2008! Rectangel organizes the Tea Towel Tours and she is a huge part of why it is successful. It is not easy to keep everyone on track in a swap like that. My role is a co-organizer and group leader. That's my hapless Owl in the thumbnail pic they used. I stitched this for Fruitloops.

Owl Embroidery for Fruitloops

Speaking of stuff like this. I can hardly believe that I have contributed 258 photos of embroidery to the Flickr Embroidery Group. That makes me #3 of the top 5 contributors there (out of 2,826 members). Most of the embroidery is my own although I also share vintage work done by the women in my family and embroidery done for me in the swaps I've participated in. If you look at my submissions, you'll see that I embroider a lot of small felt applique.

Pom Pom Maker Review

Pink and Red Pom Pom

Even though you can make pom poms with cardboard, I still love my new Pom Pom Maker. I reviewed it for Craft Critique. Read my article HERE.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year

Ahh the new year.. We are crashing headlong into all sorts of stuff I forgot I was supposed to do..

I still had time this morning to fiddle on the computer. This video cracks me up. Note that it is from The Onion and is completely false, but seems like it is real.

Apple Introduces Revolutionary New Laptop With No Keyboard